With love from our nation’s capital

15 May 2010

Dear Morgan,

While your suggestion of the vegan soul food restaurant in DC was inspired, I’m afraid we didn’t make it. I mean, I really wanted to check out how a vegan mac and cheese could turn heads, but we went to the bar first and it was a losing battle from there on.

Our tour of your little corner of the district was pretty wonderful, really. For the few hours of daylight we had, we walked around Adams Morgan and decided the hype was justified. When night fell and the night scene rose we spotted Marvin on a map and hoofed it. Nice place, all in all, but on a Saturday night they pack ’em in like sardines.

It was alright because they made my drink, a boulvardiere (think negroni, but with rye in gin’s place), with a fantastic vermouth. I realize now that it was only a personal discovery, but I found Caprano Antiqua in a bar in Venice and I learned then what vermouth could achieve. Once you get past the medicinal syrupy-ness of this class of liquor (which is all you get with something like Stock or Martini), the taste blossoms with various botanicals. It was a fantastic drink.

By this time we had given my number to the doorman at Gibson, the upstairs secret bar (shh!!), so he could text me when they had room. They did text me, but two hours later when I had met up with Trevor and Maggie at a beer bar down 14th street.

By now I was faced with a choice. I either go whole-hog and meet up with friends on H street NE, or sample the delights of Ben’s Chili Bowl. I had long given up on vegan soul food at this point, so you might have an idea where we ended up. Plus, that swell up on Pennsylvania Ave, was there recently, and I like his taste.

There’s only one choice for me on the menu. It isn’t vegan. The half smoke with chili is about as good as a chili-dog can get. Take that Cincinnati. Not sure where the “half smoke” comes from, but maybe its the half beef, half pork sausage that they grill, split if you ask them (I did). It’s doused in a dark brown meat chili that’s just the right kind of spicy to remind you of what you ate and how good it was once you’re done.

Good way to kick things off if you ask me. The next time you take a meat vacation, say bon voyage at Ben’s Chili Bowl. I’ll come meet you from wherever I am for your second.

Thanks for everything.

With love from our nation’s capital,
Joe

P.S.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U Street NW
Washington, DC
202.667.0909

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One Response to “With love from our nation’s capital”

  1. Maggie said

    Vegan soul food be damned. My soul food will be found in dusty, meaty diners or in the plates of family gatherings. But my Saturday nights are for Ben’s.

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